M.S. Swaminathan Biography
“The Father of India’s Green Revolution”, M. S. Swaminathan was born on August 7, 1925, in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu. His father passed away when he was 11 years old. After his father died, he became close to his uncle, a renowned scholar at the Madras University.
He earned a Bachelor’s degree in zoology. As a teenager, he was strongly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence and belief in swadeshi (self-reliance). He enrolled in the Coimbatore Agricultural College in Tamil Nadu. Thereafter, he moved on to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in New Delhi where he earned a post-graduate degree in Cytogenetics. He continued his studies at the Wageningen Agricultural University, Institute of Genetics in the Netherlands, before earning his PhD from the University of Cambridge. After his post-doctoral study at the University of Wisconsin, he declined the offer of a full time faculty position there and returned to India in early 1954.
His professional career began in 1949. During the period from 1949-55, he undertook research on potato, wheat, rice and jute genetics, after which he worked on Mexican dwarf wheat varieties. He established the National Bureau of Plant, Animal and Fish Genetic Resources of India and the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, besides serving as the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.
He was awarded the First World Food Prize in October 1987 and has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as “the Father of Economic Ecology”, besides being one of three Indians to be included in TIME Magazine’s 1999 list of the “20 most influential Asian people of the 20th century”, along with Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. He has many books to his credit. An Evergreen Revolution, I Predict: A Century of Hope Towards an Era of Harmony with Nature and Freedom from Hunger, Gender Dimensions in Biodiversity Management, Agrobiodiversity and Farmers’ Rights, Sustainable Agriculture: Towards Food Security are some of his notable books.